Today in the world of the modernization and globalization, education has become a vital factor to be focused and enhanced. At the same time public demand has increased for more effective and developed schools that lead to the requirement of the School Leadership. There are several evidences that suggest that school leadership has strong impact on the student learning, principal's ability and teacher's teaching.
School leadership is also known as educational leadership; it is a process of enlisting and guiding the energies and talents of pupils, parents and teachers in order to achieve common educational goal. It emphasizes on the skills, vision and guiding abilities of the teachers that they should have for smooth running of the school. It also state that the principal of the school should have all types of leadership skills that can understand the need of providing information which encourage not only to students but to whole school environment including teacher, parents and whole supporting staff. Therefore, school leadership entails the characteristics that the principal should possess to ensure good management practices and also enabling effective learning environment for the students (Fred C. Lunenberg).
At the same time, the role of the principal has been enlarged that includes incredible range of competencies and professional tasks. Principals are expected to be curriculum leaders, instructional, public relations and communication experts, community builders, guardians and educational visionaries. They are also expected to serve the often demands of the teachers, students and parents. This reveals that the role of principal far exceed the reasonable capacities of an individual and hence becomes subject of argument by many scholars and practitioners. The demand of job of principal has changed from traditional concepts of planning administration to the strategic management leadership (Stephen Davis, 2005).
Theories and Approach of School Leadership:
The management and leadership are considered to be as most practical activities as the allocation of resources, the determination of vision and evaluation of effectiveness all requires action and their implementations. Practitioners tend to be dismissive of concepts and theories for their remoteness from the situation of the real school. Many scholars and theorists provide several theories in order to get deep understanding with the concepts, crises and requirements of the school leadership.
Common House in the book "Bringing out the Best in Your Teachers" state that there are four types of leadership exhibits in the educational leadership (Joseph Blase, 2000). The four approaches are:
Supportive leadership initially deals with the study environment. It is approachable and maintains pleasant work environment.
With this approach of leadership, leaders set standards, schedule the work and establishes specific and goal oriented directions.
In this approach of leadership, suggestion and opinion of other leaders are taken into considerations.
Achievement- Oriented Leadership:
Achievement- oriented leadership approach exhibits when the leader stresses excellence in performance, set goals and plans in order to achieve challenging standard performance.
The main theories are classified into six major model of educational management which is illustrated as below in context to the primary, secondary school in different countries.
Source: (Bush, 2003)
Bennis states school leadership theory and highlights the relation between the role of leader and effective management in the school. It states that leaders should be multi tasking and should have qualities in working like influencing, coaching and building learning communities. Leaders manage trust, self, attention and meaning and their activities include organizing, planning as well as monitoring and leading. They should concern themselves with "doing the right thing" and should be aware about their skills, attitudes and should know about their utilization. A leader should have a quality of learning from their mistakes and should focus on success instead of failures. Hence, they should be highly committed towards the vision of the educational leadership (Bush, 2003)
Leadership at Atikah Bint Abdel Muttalib:
Distribution of leadership:
I have experienced unusual distribution of leadership in Atikah Bint Abdel Muttalib at the Emirates of Abu Dhabi. In the context of unusual, it has been found that leadership is focused on the core business of learning and teaching. There is a positive attitude towards professional development and a desire to implement in the classroom. In order to enable better differentiations of learning, institutional strategies and more effective engagement of learner with critical thinking and creativity has been focused so that professional learning can be translated into the practices of the management.
The vision is to incorporate the attitude of professional development in every school as well as in the daily practices in operations and management of the Principal. To acquire the vision of the school, teachers are committed and always seek an opportunity to make advantage from them.
The principal has the collaborative style for the leadership in the school, as strategic planning is a testament for such style. The principal is considering as a perfect leader as she attempts to connect professional learning and behavior with the vision of the school. In order to achieve the vision of the school, under the leadership of principal, leaders are consistently in their articulation, teachers are teaching in professional manner and school community is consulted to develop the SIP i.e. School Improvement Plan. Learning stations are set up for each KPI, stakeholders and teachers are invited to contribute strategies and to assure that the school is met with the KPI. These practices are evaluated on regular basis by the data that is collected from the survey of students and teachers.
SIP is found in the schools via mind maps and documents for which teachers and students are contributing to implicate in the daily practices of learning and management. For the enhancement and implementation of SIP, community consultation is extensive, many meetings are arranged with the parents, with other school's communities, teachers and students and their feedbacks are elicited. This is an ongoing process.
In the brief time, I had witnessed leadership of professional learning distribution with respect to three teachers who are the HOD of Islamic studies, Arabic studies and of English respectively. I was surprised and glad to know their roles and responsibilities in context to fulfilling the vision of the school. They are all regarded as the potential leaders; they trust in the process of leading professional learning and to collaborate in the management and delivery of training session with the principal.
I found that all teachers have a personal learning plan and different ways of teaching but they all target to implement the professional learning. However there is a prevailing refrain that either all will succeed together or they will fall down together i.e. it is Atikah evaluation not ADEC evaluation. Professional learning has played a significant role in the core concepts of the management and leadership. Following are the features that contributed to the evaluation of the school leadership.
Student leadership is also featured in the school. Students are found to be participative in the events with the feeling of proud.
The principal attends and participates in all professional developments with teachers.
The school strives to present a complete learning environment. The environment is regarded as learning space; use of computers, print rich, play board games, library, sports and thus, enhancing culture of learning.
The school leaders seem to articulate data driven approach to target setting with respect to management and student achievement. Continuous Assessment, EMSA, ADEC exams, teacher evaluations as well as data is gathered or collated by the social worker which is process implemented in order to use for their own baseline testing system. Generally, the Leaders use graphical presentation of the data to identify trends, areas of concern, strengths and follow cohorts of students. They describe a wide understanding of the types of analysis that EMSA can provide, for example, the use of Box and Whisker graphs which has shown that their overall results compared with other schools are very favorable. Their minimum, 25th percentile, median and (usually) 75th percentile results are better than girls schools across Abu Dhabi. However, the whisker above the 75th percentile does not extend as high as it does for the other schools. From this they have deduced that they are not providing sufficient challenge for their gifted and talented students. They are also able to examine data for possible affirmation of earlier professional learning focuses and the consequences of teacher loss.
My school's learning approach is found to be Achievement- Oriented approach at times, it also been found participative approach which is a successful theory of the leadership. In my perspective, this leadership is an appropriate for leading schools in the UAE because UAE is the region where unemployment is the major issue because of inadequate and professional education. Therefore, this educational approach will enhanced the economic and education style of the UAE.
It has been concluded that leaders in the Atikah Bint Abdel Muttalib School are putting extra efforts to implement professional education in the school. The school actively seeks collaboration with organizations which will support them to achieve their vision, and view of a new learning opportunity which will be favorable for providing of the possibility with fresh perspective on their progress and supports for their accomplishments.